Controversial food personality Anthony Bourdain has never been reticent about vocalizing his viewpoints about cooking, foodie culture, and/or other celebrity chefs. This brash and opinionated matter-of-factness can make him somewhat of a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. I, for one, appreciate that his honesty (and even disdain) are not instantly filtered through a politically correct publicity machine. In the current entertainment landscape, it's increasingly rare for someone to express an unprocessed thought. So while I may not always agree with the outspoken Bourdain, I respect his forthrightness. I've been a fan of many of Bourdain's books, and still rank 2000's "Kitchen Confidential" as one of my favorites (it was even adapted into a short-lived and criminally underrated FOX sitcom with Bradley Cooper).
Thus, I was pretty excited by the idea of "Get Jiro!" Combining my love of food entertainment with my love of the graphic novel form (is this really a large market?), "Get Jiro!" just sounded like fun! And, to a certain degree, it is. The story revolves around a future version of Los Angeles where fine dining and culinary superiority rule the day. The city is ravaged by opposing chefs, and this violent division creates a daily body count in the war of food movements. The two despots that run the dueling factions are exaggerated and satiric versions of contemporary food personalities that you might recognize (if not by actual person, by philosophy). Amidst the bloodshed (and enhancing it ten-fold), an independent sushi chef named Jiro comes to the attention of both warlords. But by trying to manipulate Jiro to their own end, each may find their own undoing at hand.
Again, I love the idea of "Get Jiro!" The finished artwork that I've seen (credited to Langdon Foss) is incredibly detailed and impressive. I read quite a few graphic novels, and I would hold the completed images that were provided in my advance copy easily on the top tier. There is no doubt in my mind that the book will be visually stunning. Just studying the images, there are plenty of small in-jokes to amuse and entertain and the coloring and shading is top notch. My primary reservations, however, come from the actual story. Once I fully embraced the premise, I didn't feel like the narrative took me anyplace that I wasn't expecting from having read the synopsis. Once established, the story is rather straightforward (if gore soaked) and I wanted a bit more cleverness, a few more surprises, more moments to make me laugh. The idea is loaded with satiric possibilities, but the text plays it too straight through the violent onslaught of images.
As a curiosity, I'd still recommend this to Bourdain fans or those interested in the culinary scene. If Jiro returns for another adventure, however, I'd like the humor to be heightened. It's a lunatic world that has been created, embrace it! About 3 1/2 stars. I liked my trip to the future, but I wanted to love it! KGHarris, 5/12.